Is “Zentai” Really Becoming a Thing in Japan?

So the Washington Post recently ran a breathless story about the raging new trend in Japan: “Zentai” full body suits (zentai literally meaning “full body”) and we were immediately reminded of the completely bogus “bagelhead” phenomenon and the slightly-less-bogus but still pretty misleadingly reported “sexless Japan” thing from a while back.

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“They meet on clandestine Internet forums,” the scandalous segment begins, insinuating a kind of super cutting-edge fashion on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream. “As many as 10 adherents gather every month,” the piece gushes, as though 10 is somehow a significant number, and as though one might have a hard time finding 10 people into practically any given fetish in any given country outside of Japan.


The reality is you could probably find 10 people who are into cutting their own penises off and jumping out of windows in a drug-fueled berserker rage in the Post’s home state of Washington, but that doesn’t necessarily constitute a trend.

If anything, “Zentai” is probably most comparable to so-called Furries; people who get their rocks off dressing in full-body animal costumes and acting like forest creatures that think they’re people. We aren’t ones to judge, but we’re going to go out on a limb and say that Furries, like Zentai, are firmly outside of the mainstream. Oddly, though, we don’t really see Japanese media going bonkers over those zany Americans who have taken to dressing up in fox and horse costumes en masse and taking to the streets. Coincidence?

In the name of due diligence, we actually did a quick Japanese language search for “Zentai,” (全体)”Zentai Suit” and other variations and found very few results in Google Images – and we all know if you can’t find it on Google images, it’s far less relevant than, say, Kate Upton’s boobs. A search for the synonymous “Zenshin” (全身)did yield a couple of goofy looking full body suits, but most wound up being novelty gifts, Halloween costumes or very industry-specific products like the above green screen suit for filming CGI backgrounds.

We’re going to put our no doubt extremely sterling reputation on the line and say that this is another example of Western media clamoring for another click-hungry “Japanese people are weird!” headline.


 Photo credit: TubeTape


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